New York, December 28, 2010--The death of Sun Hongjie, a senior reporter at the Northern Xinjiang Morning Post, must be fully investigated by regional authorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and by central authorities in Beijing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Sun died in a hospital in Kuitun today, 10 days after being beaten by several men at a construction site, international news reports said.
At least six young men attacked Sun at the Kuitin construction site, where the reporter had gone to meet a source, according to international news reports. Authorities dismissed journalism-related motives last week, saying the attack stemmed from an online dispute involving a social media acquaintance of Sun.
The official account, carried widely in state-sanctioned media, was greeted with skepticism in unofficial online media. Colleagues said Sun often wrote stories critical of the local government, including recent reporting on the demolition of a factory to make way for housing for local party leaders, according to local and international reports.
"Until there is a full, independent investigation, the official explanation of Sun Hongjie's brutal death must be treated with a great deal of skepticism," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator.